In Classic Rock 200 we counted down the 200 greatest songs of the magazine's lifetime, 1998-2014. Today, it's part two of a short series in which our writers will tell stories about some of these these songs, and about the bands that made them.
Steven Wilson – The Raven That Refused To Sing (2013)
It began in a music meeting at Manchester University’s student paper. Review CDs were distributed, and this teenage wannabe rock scribe left with the latest output from Destructors 666 (then serving up scuzz-garage-punk albums on what felt like a weekly basis). A classic, it was not. But in that same meeting, a fellow first-year called Matt started raving about a group called Porcupine Tree, and hailing Steven Wilson as some sort of saint. This was embarrassingly new to me. Steven who? Hitherto then I’d lived on a diet of AC/DC, Green Day, Supergrass and other largely non-progressive stuff.
Much music was exchanged, Matt and I are still friends, and a love affair with the work of Wilson has continued to thrive ever since. Fans grieved when Porcupine Tree seemed to go quiet, but his subsequent solo work has been so profoundly engaging there’s little cause for moaning. And amid the epic sprawls of Luminol and the like came this poetic, melancholy number. Perfectly formed, gorgeously sung… just bloody great.
The Temperance Movement — Midnight Black (2013)
Oooh it was a very good day when this little beauty came along. I’d vaguely heard that this band called The Temperance Movement were meant to be quite good. It was said to be ‘new classic rock’, one of the members used to be in Jamiroquai, another in Rooster…otherwise it was a fairly blank slate. Reviews ed Ian Fortnam commissioned me to review their debut, I listened in delight several times over, and gave it 9⁄10. Only the second time I’d given such a high mark to anything, which felt quite momentous at the time.
Quite simply the record was (and, more importantly, still is) a joy to hear from start to finish. The kind of substantial, classy yet fun rock’n’roll that fills you with optimism for 21st century music. And in Midnight Black, one of the album’s stonking highlights, they have an assured knees-up-inducing dose of happiness.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club — Whatever Happened To My Rock And Roll (2001)
It’s a notable moment in one’s life, moving from J17 and Bliss magazines onto NME. Ingesting the latest news of the musical darlings of the day – The Strokes, The Vines, The White Stripes… Christ it felt cool and exciting, especially to a slightly odd, bookish 13-year-old in rural Essex. But few took hold quite as sharply as BRMC, specifically Whatever Happened To My Rock And Roll – a blistering, sexy few minutes of escapism. It was only post-punk rock’n’roll (and I didn’t have the foggiest what post-punk was at the time) but I liked it. And so did a lot of people. Yes many would say it’s very Jesus And Mary Chain, no they haven’t always hit the spot in subsequent efforts, but in 2001 BRMC got it very, very right.
The Black Keys — Lonely Boy (2011)
The Ohio duo had already proven their knack for bluesy, garage-infused rock. Delivering since 2001, but acquiring serious attention with Brothers in 2010, they were a gritty stylish proposition. Howlin’ For You was brilliant, ditto Next Girl, the latter helped by its video, starring a lip-syncing cuddly toy dinosaur (if you haven’t seen it already you really should – everyone loves a lip-syncing cuddly dinosaur).
Then came Lonely Boy, and suddenly they had a hit that was both hip and magnificently catchy. You know those tracks you fall instantly, wildly in love with, and have to keep playing again and again? And then again a few more times, usually while dancing (in your room, kitchen, the street…), though you know you should move on? I had that with Lonely Boy. I had it bad. It was worth it though.
**You can view the entire 200 tracks in issue 200 of Classic Rock, which can be ordered online from MyFavouriteMagazines. **
**Alternatively, you can download the Classic Rock magazine app from iTunes. **